CDP or Transport/DAC- Need help
I just moved back to the US after 6 years living in a London flat. Consequently, I didn't pay too much attention to high end, audio or video developments, during that time. I've since upgraded my pre-amp (Pass Labs X-1), speakers (Sonus Faber Cremona) and cabling. Amplification is through VAC PA-160mkII monoblocks. These take EL34's, 6L6's, 6550 or KT88 and have two 6SN7's on the driver side (using a Brimar and Raytheon, VT231 combo on each side). Currently running either GE6CA7 fatboys in triode (0 feedback) or GE 6550's in ultralinear (0 feedback). Thinking about the digital side now. I play only red book CD's and won't be using this unit for video or SACD.
I quite like the sound of my current Classe digital separate set-up but it's 10 years old now. May have been class A then but a lot has happened.
Looking to spend $3,000-4,000 and will buy used. Not wedded to separates or a player but definitely want to have balanced outputs. I'm also leaning towards a top loader as I'm not a big fan of sliding drawers. Not then end of the world as I realize this last requirement severely limits the selection.
The stuff by Metronome, Audiomeca, Cary, Ayre and SimAudio all looks interesting.
My system's not thin sounding, nor is my listening preference which is probably towards the warm side. Nice mid-range, excellent voice reproduction and articulation, realistic cymbal overtones and soundstage are what I look for when auditioning. Massive, driving bass is not a requirement. I listen to rock, jazz (electric and acoustic), orchestral and chamber music.
Any thoughts, comments, links would be appreciated. Also have no clue about the upsampling debate or why people now don't want HDCD on their digital front ends.